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McHenry, North Dakota

McHenry Railroad Loop and Hobo House

A lonely house representing railroad history tells the stories of those who rode the rails. 

Built in 1899, the McHenry Loop was pretty unique even when the iron horses of the rails ruled transportation, utilizing a giant loop to turn around trains at the end of the railroad branch line.

Now on the National Register of Historical Places, the McHenry loop is the only remaining one of its kind on the continent. While this is interesting enough to see (and the town has created a nice trackside museum next to it), one of the highlights is the bright red “hobo house” resting on the property. 

On the exterior of a speeder shed from 1894, hobos from as early as the late 1890s have carved their monikers. The carvings invite one to ponder what brought the Omaha Kid out to this remote outpost, or search for signs of when Hank the Tie Tramp last passed through. An Omaha Kid lost a prize fight in San Francisco in 1899 - was it the same Kid, returning east, defeated? It may be just graffiti, but it stirs a lonesome feeling that calls out to those romantic, rail-hopping tramps.  

Know Before You Go

McHenry is located on North Dakota Highway 20 44 miles south of Devils Lake and 46 miles north of Jamestown. The depot is located on the north edge of McHenry near the elevators.